Despite all the rhetoric about “protecting our children” and “children are the future”, our governments seem determined to prevent them preparing for the real future. Take NSW schools minister Verity Firth…
This morning the Sydney Morning Herald tells us the NSW government will receive $285M for new laptops — which will then be blocked from accessing social media and most everything else.
The Minister for Education, Verity Firth [pictured], said the Government would prevent access to the social networking sites, and other sites, even when the laptops were used at home.
“We don’t want these kids to be using these computers for the not-so-wholesome things that can be on the net. And they won’t be able to because essentially the whole server is coming through the Department of Education.”
So kids will be prevented from using their computers to connect with and understand their peers and the real world because of this continuing paranoia about unspecified “not-so-wholesome things” and parents being too lazy to supervise their own children.
Maybe Ms Firth needs to read Mark Pesce’s Those Wacky Kids, or watch the video. As Pesce quite rightly points out, if the classroom is the only part of these kids’ lives which isn’t hyperconnected, then the classroom will be seen as irrelevant.
Rupert Murdoch is right to say we have a 19th Century education system. Our Minister seems intent on keeping it that way.
A 16-year-old at last week’s forum on Internet censorship said she’d prepared one assignment at home but couldn’t present it at school because all the source material was blocked.
“I have been surfing the web for most of my school life, at school and home, with filters and without, and I have never accidentally stumbled upon pornographic material,” she said.
“We want education, not restriction.”
In another “generous” move…
“[Students] can take it home, back to school, and then after four years, when they leave school, they can take their computer away with them.”
Wow. Already kids tend to be given cheap, underpowered equipment “suitable for students”, as if their research and assignment-preparation was somehow less demanding, their time of less value. I’d be amazed if the laptops actually survive all four years in a kid’s backpack. But if they do, by then they’ll be a year past end of life and way behind current standards.
This isn’t a generous offer, it’s a government either too lazy to collect and recycle the old computers, or too clueless to realise how fast computing changes.